How Discomfort Creates Progress

discomfort creates progress

Imagine this: a small business owner creates and implements a prospecting plan. As they move forward, they start realizing results. Those results include meetings with prospective clients, proposals, and sales. The busier they get, the less they prospect. As a matter of fact, they pull back from active prospecting. And they might not even realize they are doing it!

Does this sound familiar? It just might. Every day small business owners are scaling back their prospecting plans for various reasons. Some of them don’t realize they are doing it. Others make an intentional decision to slow it down. Their thinking is that they have a lot in the pipeline and if they keep prospecting, they’ll end up having to turn business away. These folks also feel like they’d be lying if they kept prospecting while they have opportunities in the funnel. And the third group slows down because they now feel comfortable. They breathe a sigh of relief. They think they can slow down because they’ve got business.

Well, I don’t think any of these reasons are good. In my opinion, there is never a good time to stop or slow down your prospecting.

1. The Unaware

This slow down happens due to a lack of a structured prospecting and selling system. These folks should create a more structured plan that they put on a calendar. When they have the steps of the process on the calendar and treat those ‘appointments’ as sacred, they will find that prospecting continues on a consistent basis. They will realize the rewards of that consistent system.

2. The Intentional

There’s a real fallacy in the argument here. You don’t have the business until you have the business. You can have all kinds of “opportunities” in the pipeline, but until you sign the deal and actually get the business — you don’t have the business!  The solution here is to put an expiration on the proposal or quote. If it’s good for 30 days it can always be renegotiated if needed. In this way you can keep prospecting and take on the business as it comes. You don’t have to hold off to wait and see what comes to fruition. If you quote someone in February but they don’t accept your proposal until May, they will have to fall into the timeline you have set up. They don’t go to the front of the line.

3.  The Comfortable

These folks are interesting. If you ask them why they slow down or stop their prospecting they will probably tell you they got lazy. That’s how they see it. However, it isn’t lazy, it’s comfortable. In this case, there probably isn’t a clearly defined goal they are working toward. There’s no reward at the end of the prospecting process. So, it’s easy to slow down or stop. There isn’t a significant consequence. These business owners should set goals (I know that sounds obvious, but it really doesn’t happen a lot of the time). They can set a reward they can get once they’ve achieved that goal. This reward is beyond whatever the actual goal is.

You can see that there are various scenarios in which small business owners reduce or stop their prospecting efforts. And there are ways they can adjust their practices to create consistent, ongoing processes that move their businesses forward. If the story at the beginning sounded familiar, ask yourself which group you find yourself in. Then, make adjustments so you realize growth.

Snail Photo via Shutterstock


Diane Helbig Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Top Sales World Experts Panel at Top Sales World.

4 Reactions
  1. I agree. Discomfort is a way for you to break your routine. It is a way for you to rise above what you usually do and pushes you to your limits. But if you swallow your fear, the uncomfortable suddenly becomes comfortable and you improve.

  2. I’m in The Comfortable category, though it’s something I’m fighting myself to get out of. Being comfortable will not get me where I want to get to.

    • The comfortable is easy and safe. And you are right, it won’t get you where you need to go. Try to visualize the other side of the change. When you can see what change looks like it is less scary.